EMPLOYEES of a Chester-based car clamping firm are licensed under a new law, which is aimed at cracking down on cowboy operators.
Ken Wilson, a manager of North West Clamping which monitors 40 sites in the city, says staff have been through appropriate training such as how to avoid and defuse conflict.
They, and all new workers, must register with the Security Industry Authority and abide by a code of conduct. Failure to get a licence could attract a £5,000 fine or six-month prison sentence.
Mr Wilson said he is '150%' behind the new law, believing it will give more legitimacy to genuine clampers who aim to keep expensive spaces available for those who pay the rent.
But he conceded: 'The average person will still see us like they see traffic wardens. But if they leave their car parked on private land when clamping signs are clearly visible then they have only got themselves to blame.' Mr Wilson said the industry was becoming more professional. Employees of his company now wear shirts and ties.
He also added that 95% of people who had been clamped were prepared to pay the £70 release fee without a fuss but for a minority there was a danger of confrontation.
Staff were educated in avoiding conflict as well as defusing and resolving volatile situations. There were also strict rules governing the size and positioning of warning signs.
'The signs do 80% of the work,' he said. 'It's like a scarecrow in a field. They do keep people away.'
Mr Wilson said the service to landlords was free and company's running costs were covered by the £70 release fees. However, he denied staff were set targets or received performance-related bonuses. He said the notion that clampers lay in wait for transgressors at well known hot spots was a myth.
'We have got too many sites to have a van sat at every single one,' he said. 'We physically cannot do that. We would have to have hundreds of people.'
All wheel clampers and vehicle immobilisers that operate on private land and charge a fee for release are now required to hold a licence issued by the Security Industry Authority (SIA).
Vehicle immobilisers are required to undergo an identity and criminal records check and pass a five-day training course to show they have reached set levels of training and professional standards.
When working vehicle immobilisers are required to wear their SIA licences, be identifiable and accountable. email@example.com
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